The Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society (formerly NIASP) was founded as a voluntary organisation in 1988. The Society has had charitable status from its early years, and acts on a non-profit basis.

The fundamental aim of the Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society is to improve the mental health and well-being of the citizens of Northern Ireland through the advancement and diffusion of the psychoanalytic perspective on the mind by education, clinical training, clinical consultancy and academic research to the highest international standards.



Dr Tom Freeman 1919 – 2002

Dr Tom Freeman 1919 – 2002

Towards the mid-1980s a group of psychiatrists, psychologists and others decided to meet under the guidance of Dr Thomas Freeman to study both psychoanalytic writings and practice with a view to deepening their own understanding of this fascinating theory of the human mind. Thomas Freeman was then the only psychoanalyst in Northern Ireland. Because of his expertise in this area he was ideally placed to assist this nascent group.

Freeman’s major focus of expertise was in the psychoses, particularly on the psychoanalytic understanding of these dreadful conditions. He had published widely in this area and during his time as a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Hampstead Clinic (now the Anna Freud Centre) he developed the psychological profile then used with children and adults for application to those persons suffering from psychotic illness.

In 1988 the group decided to form a formal association named The Northern Ireland Association for the Study of Psychoanalysis. A constitution was drafted, and officers appointed and the group met on one Tuesday evening and one Saturday each month during term time. Such were the beginnings of the Society we are today.


Each year saw new members added to our roster. Our once monthly Saturday meetings, where clinical and theoretical issues were discussed, usually had as well a visiting psychoanalyst from London. Indeed the list of these visitors is impressive, representing a wide range of psychoanalytic thinking, and included (alphabetically) Ron Baker, Arthur Couch, Donald Campbell, Christopher Cordess, Dennis Duncan, Mike Fitzgerald, Peter Fonagy, Caroline Garland, Mervyn Glasser, Robert Hinshelwood, Brendan McCarthy, Edna O’Shaughnessy, Eric Rayner, Joseph and Anne Marie Sandler, Elizabeth Spillius, Harold Stewart, Paul Williams, and many others too numerous to mention, many of whom visited frequently. The range of psychoanalytic thinking represented by this group of visitors is still embedded in our training. NIASP organised also a variety of successful conferences, either at Malone House or at the Dunadry Hotel, which attracted world class speakers and large attendance.

NIASP Founders at Malone House Conference with Joseph Sandler (2nd from left) and Anne-Marie Sandler (3rd from right)

NIASP Founders at Malone House Conference with Joseph Sandler (2nd from left) and Anne-Marie Sandler (3rd from right)

Membership expands as seen at Second Malone House Conference in mid 1990s

Membership expands as seen at Second Malone House Conference in mid 1990s

In the late 1990s NIASP made formal moves to join what was then the umbrella group for most psychoanalytically based trainings in the UK, and our Association was accepted as a Member Institution of the British Confederation of Psychotherapists (BCP). This umbrella organisation was later to become what is better known today as the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC), one of the main regulating bodies for psychoanalytic therapy and training.

In addition, during this time a number of members successfully graduated from the Sponsored Training scheme offered by the British Psychoanalytic Society and became psychoanalysts registered with the BPaS. Today Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society has 5 psychoanalysts on its Roster (one of whom is a Training and Supervising analyst with the BPaS) as well as psychoanalytic therapists, group therapists and child therapists. A number of our members are also psychiatrists. A list of full members of Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society is available here.

The Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society has continued to flourish over the years and even though we have lost some members, (two who have emigrated, one back to South Africa and one Associate Member to Canada, two who have retired, and four who have died), the Society currently has 17 full members, 6 Student members undertaking the demanding 4+ year training to become psychoanalytic psychotherapists registered with the BPC, and 14 Guest members.

In 2018 the Society received 'Study Group Status' from the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) opening up the possibility of training psychoanalysts in Northern Ireland. In early 2019 the organisation decided to its name to the Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society reflecting our ambition to train people to the highest level in the field. The Society will work with its IPA 'sponsoring committee' over the next number of years in developing the rigorous training and regulatory framework required in becoming a Component Member of the IPA.


The Society continues to progress our aims through effective governance and executive monitoring, through the maintenance of the highest standards of education and training,  and through transparent financial management and planning. Each of these elements is expanded on below.

Through effective governance and executive monitoring:

  1. By an Executive Committee that oversees the running of the Association, assisted by a Finance Sub-Committee and a Training Committee. These Committees of the Association are assisted in their work by a Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society Administrator.

  2. By the appointment of Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society Officers elected tri-annually (renewable) including the Chair of Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society, the Honorary Secretary, the Honorary Treasurer, and the Chair of the Training Committee.

  3. By maintaining the highest ethical standards, through the Code of Conduct and Complaints Procedures regulated by the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) of which Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society is a Member Institution. The BPC is one of the main psychotherapy regulating bodies in the UK.

Through the maintenance of the highest international standards in education and training:

  1. By an exacting training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy for those working in both the private and public sectors including the National Health Service, and which training is overseen by an External Examiner with successful completion of such training leading to Registration with the BPC.

  2. By the provision of regular high quality lectures and seminars to guests, trainees and other interested parties throughout the academic year.

  3. By the provision of clinical consultancy services to a range of agencies and other groupings who seek a psychoanalytic perspective on current mental health problems experienced by children, adults and mental health teams.

  4. By the organising of conferences either independently or with other organisations such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists etc.

  5. By the fostering of research through collaboration and/or participation in local, national and international projects, through the seeking of research funding, and through the presenting and publishing of clinical and theoretical papers at local meetings, conferences, and in national and international journals.

Through Transparent Financial Management, and Planning

  1. By monthly/weekly accounting by the Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society Administrator of income and expenditure, including the preparation of invoices and the payment of monies owing by the Society in the delivery of our aims and objectives as a Society as defined in1 and 2 above.

  2. By the preparation of annual accounts for internal committees of Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society including the Financial Planning Committee, the Executive Committee and for the Annual General Meeting of the Society and for external bodies such as the Northern Ireland Charity Commissioners and any other relevant agencies.

  3. By sound financial planning for the future by effectively managing Northern Ireland Psychoanalytic Society assets to cover any exigencies that may arise such as moving to and renting new offices.


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